For such a tea-loving corner of the world, you’d think Europe would be rich in tea plantations. It’s not. The continent is in fact home to a mere handful. Oddly, the oldest of the small bunch, Gorreana Tea Plantation, is located on the tiny Azorean island of São Miguel.
The Portuguese island was once a major orange producer and exporter, until a blight in the mid-19th century forced the island into more varied streams of income. Passion fruit, bananas, and other produce made appearances, but nothing took to the island’s volcanic soil and humid climate quite so well as tea plant seeds. Fourteen plantations burst across the island before the close of the century. In 1883, Ermelinda Gago da Câmara opened a 32-acre farm called Gorreana with (what was then) state-of-the-art, hydro-powered equipment. Five generations later, it’s still family-owned.
Today, the plantation produces 44 tons of tea annually, using the original equipment and overlooking the same pristine stretch of unobstructed Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can book tours of the facility and, depending on the time of year, witness the picking and packing of the tons of leaves. Their spread of black and green teas are available on-site as well as online.
Tea grown and processed here is shipped to Japan, Angola, Brazil, Germany, the U.S., and beyond. Not bad for a tiny island.